Michael Hussey was battling to keep Australia in contention in the second cricket test today after Sourav Ganguly put India in a dominant position on the second day with his 16th test century. Ganguly, who will retire at the end of the series, compiled 102 and his 130-run partnership with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who fell eight short of his hundred, helped lift India to 469 and ensured the hosts had a tight grip on the match.
By stumps, India's position was even stronger with Australia reduced to 102 for 4 - still 367 behind. Michael Clarke appeared more confident than Hussey, but he fell to rookie leg-spinner Amit Mishra's wrong'un on what was the last ball of the day. Mishra had gone around the wicket and trapped Clarke lbw for 23. Hussey survived a handful of chances - including a tough caught-behind miss by Dhoni on 25 - but Australia needed his contribution of 37 not out.
Australia's chase started badly when the experienced opener Matthew Hayden played on to Zaheer Khan's third ball of the innings, just before the tea interval. It continued Hayden's disappointing series following scores of 0 and 13 in the first test in Bangalore. The problem got worse after the break when skipper Ricky Ponting (5), having survived a close lbw appeal, fell in the same manner later in Ishant Sharma's over.
The ball cut back sharply, hitting Ponting on the back thigh, and left Australia at 17-2. Opener Simon Katich's resistance ended on 33, and Australia slumped to 62-3, when he pushed a defensive shot into the pitch and it rolled off his leg and on to the stumps. The wicket was the first for Mishra, who finished with 2-21 from 8.5 overs. Ganguly was the patient partner in the Indian innings, bringing up his hundred with a pull for four, his eighth boundary, off Cameron White.
He raised both hands in the air and was a relieved man to reach triple figures - his place in the lineup had been questioned following a subdued series against Sri Lanka. Ganguly was dismissed six deliveries later when he skied White to Brett Lee at mid-off, departing after facing 219 balls. India had resumed the second morning at 311-5 and was 326-6 when Dhoni arrived, pulling his first ball from Lee for four.
His fifth, from Peter Siddle, went over fine leg for six. Dhoni showed his power in a quick-fire knock of 92 from 124 balls that included eight fours and four brutal sixes. Dhoni, who cleared the ropes twice off White, was last man out when adjudged lbw to rookie paceman Siddle when a full inswinger hit him outside the line of off stump. Lee struck Dhoni in the shoulder when he turned his back on a bouncer early in his innings, but the blow did not hinder his scoring - or Indias chances of taking a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.
Siddle struck in the fifth over of the day when he came around the wicket and nightwatchman Ishant Sharma (9) fended the ball to Katich at leg gully. It was Australia's only breakthrough until Ganguly departed and he was quickly followed by Harbhajan Singh, who was bowled by White for 1. Zaheer Khan was run-out from a smart throw from Lee before Dhoni's dismissal. Mitchell Johnson returned the best figures of 3-85 while Siddle finished with 3-114 and White claimed 2-71. Lee received two stitches for a split webbing in his right hand after injuring himself in the first session, but returned to the field after lunch. *AP